Metal Gear AC!D Review

Metal Gear Acid

One of the big titles first announced for the PSP during its pre-launch hype was a portable version of Hideo Kojima’s classic Metal Gear series. I remember the first time I heard that, and vividly remember the squeal of glee I immediately let out. Well it wasn’t a squeal really, just think of something a little bit more masculine and that was what I did. I immediately chatted up my friends and we started thinking about how damn cool it would be to play a version of MGS while on the go. It wasn’t too long after that the gaming public found out that this game, this piece of portable Zen would actually be a card game. Yes, a card game. Just like the Pokemons and Magic the Gatherings before it, we would be playing with virtual cards inside this game. The thoughts and dreams of stealthing through a level and sniping an unsuspecting foe quickly vanished while images of “I choose you Pikachoooo!” came flooding in. In hindsight, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Metal Gear AC!D

Set in the Metal Gear universe, Metal Gear AC!D takes an innovative approach on telling its story. The story opens sometime in the near future on a plane who’s occupants have been subdued with vecuronium bromide, a strong muscle relaxant that has been released into the air. This flight contains the senator turned presidential candidate Senator Hach, oh and a bomb. The hijacker wants the fruits of a research project named “Pythagoras” or this plane and a series of others will be destroyed. You are Solid Snake, and you are called in to help getting Pythagoras to hopefully save the Senators life. This game does contain a typical Metal Gear story line, so you can be assured that this is only the very tip of the iceberg in that respect. The story bends, twists and doubles back over itself so many times that you will only really know what is happening at the very end. The story was well designed and written, providing enough of a drive to continue though the slow parts in the game play.

I’ll tell you this right now, this is not the Metal Gear that you know and love. All actions in this game are accomplished by “Using” cards. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can get on to really appreciating the strategy brilliance this game contains. This is a turn based strategy game with a nice sprinkling of luck thrown in for good measure. You build your deck of cards from the game’s total of 204 cards. You deck starts off with a max of 30 cards, but that limit increases as you get further into the game. During and at the end of each mission you can find packs of cards that add to your total. You can also buy some of the various booster packs (those being MGS1, MGS2, MGS Chronicles and MGS3), as well as singles during intermission with the points you have accumulated while playing. This is a deep deck building system that will have you replaying certain levels to gather points to buy packs in the hope of finding that 1 rare card you need to make your deck perfect. While I didn’t particularly enjoy this at the start, I soon found myself battling to find more and more of the cards I needed to complete my set. You can think of this as a game within a game.

Quite the hand you have Snake.

The gameplay consists of TURNS and COST. You start off with two TURNS and play cards that all have their own COST. You turn comes again when your total COST has counted back down to zero. While sounding confusing, I found that this system quickly became second nature to me. Since the enemies on the level all play out their turns using cards as well, the system in the end is fair. Your hand can hold a maximum of 6 cards at anytime, and what’s in your current hand all comes down to the luck of the draw. So you’ll have to design your decks wisely, balancing weapon cards with defensive cards with movement cards. The nice thing is that nearly every weapon and defense card can also be used to MOVE as well, cutting down on the strict movement cards you’ll need. Again I really enjoyed the card management and game play system that Konami designed.

Graphically this game looks like the PS2 Metal Gear games before it. There are points during little cut scenes that I forgot that I was playing a strategy game and wanted to take Snake exploring in the levels. The levels themselves are surprisingly detailed for a strategy game with nice little details like office furniture and signs on the walls. Because most of this game takes place from a top down prospective, I for one was surprised at all these little touches seeing as you rarely even get the chance to even see the sides of walls. Another nice graphical touch was the menuing system. You can quickly switch between the deck editor to the marketplace to the level select screens, the menus are clear and to the point, all while maintaining a theme that fits well in this game world.

Explosions are always cool.

I was also fairly impressed with the audio in this game. All the typical Metal Gear touches like the caution and warning alarms were there, but for a strategy game the soundtrack is quite large and varied. All the weapons and explosions sound like you would expect them to, which was nice to see.

As much as I would like to say it, all was not perfect with MGA. The games biggest features were also one of its biggest drawbacks; that being the reliance on the turn based system. Seeing as both you and the enemies are both limited by this system, you will sometimes be spending minutes waiting for a level of enemies to finish their turns. That becomes even more apparent when you use a series of cards that generate a pile of cost, and then making a mistake alerting the whole level to your location. Watching 8 to 10 enemies moving slowly towards you while you are stuck waiting for your 28 cost to tick down gets old fast. I would have loved the inclusion of a “skip enemy movements” option or button, but sadly that was not to be. There is a fast forward button and option, but all it really does is cut your waiting time in half. It also adds in the nice “feature” of accidentally skipping your turn by holding down the skip button for a fraction of a second too long. Can you say “Yay frustration!”?? I knew you could.


Things get interesting later in the game with the ability to control a second character, named Teliko, and play out her turns as well. This offers you the chance to stack each deck for different play styles to make the levels easier. I quickly found myself customizing Teliko with all the long range and sniper weapons seeing as she gets 3 TURNS by default, leaving Snake with all the direct damage and short range more powerful weapons. This was a great addition and came just in time to stave off the difficulty contained in the later levels.

As expected in a card based battle game Konami included an Adhoc multiplayer battle game as well, but I found this mode too flawed to be enjoyable. There is no option for a 1 on 1, pit your deck against your friend’s battle here. Instead you are running through levels with severely decreased vision hunting down NPCs to collect a predetermined number of Pythagoras disks in a certain time frame. The first one to collect all their disks and make their way out of the level wins. If neither have made their way out before the timer ticks to zero the one with the most disks wins. While fun, I would have loved to see more thought put into the multiplayer aspects of this game. Hell, the inclusion of a card trading system at least would of made me want to fire up this mode more then the once or twice I did while testing. Hopefully Konami can fix this part of the game up in time for Metal Gear AC!D 2. Easy multiplayer gaming through the wireless system is a huge selling point for the PSP. I can just hope that in time developers will start realizing this and begin adding in a wealth of multiplayer options or mini games to their titles. We want multiplayer!

 He looks pissed.

I said it at the start of this review, and I’ll say it again here. This is not the Metal Gear you all know and love from its PS2 days. This game exists in its own little space. I was worried that this would be a cash-in “Lets throw snake in this card game we were messing around with” sort of game, and I am glad that I was wrong. And while I was initially disappointed with the announcement of a card based strategy game, I found myself quickly forgetting all that and really enjoying myself. My first play through took me 22 hours and I loved nearly every minute of it. Rest assured I will be playing this game a few more times in an attempt to get all the cards it contains. Oh and then there is the Extreme mode that is unlocked when you beat the game for the first time. I can trust that I will have easily another 60 hours of game play before this game hits the shelf.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Telico has just spotted a guard that’s facing away from her. She wants to try out the new sniper rifle she picked from a pack of MGS3 cards, and by the look of it, I can’t blame her.

Metal Gear Acid Metal Gear Acid Metal Gear Acid
Metal Gear Acid Metal Gear Acid Metal Gear Acid
The levels were surprisingly detailed for a game that was essentially a huge board game. Everything is brought together nicely with the great UI. A beautiful game.
The fact that there was a Metal gear soundtrack surprised me, but due to the board game nature of the game is gets repetitive.
While not a typical MGS game, this title can easily stand on it’s own as a great chapter in the Metal Gear universe. I would of liked to see more multiplayer options however.
If you are like me you will want to play through this game a second or third time to collect all the cards and multiples of the good ones. The only thing keeping this game from scoring higher in this category is the lack of a solid multiplayer experience
While I love this game personally, I realize that it may not be for everybody. There are some slow points in the story line that even I had a hard time getting through. That and the fact that some of the gameplay mechanics were poorly explained, even in the manual has kept this from scoring higher over all. With 20+ hours for a first play through, this is well worth the price asked.

5 Responses to “Metal Gear AC!D Review”

  1. 1 mrsmiley

    Wow, great review! There is just no way I would be able to get around the card game aspect of AC!D. I can’t stand card games of any kind (except for poker!).

  2. 2 Kevin Chung

    “Solid” Game.

  3. 3 Shadow Gear

    Nice review, The thing it lacks the most is ACTION…..ACTION I SAY! lol
    I think they should of not put in the card type system into the gameplay and kept it as the usual MGS style kinda game…if that makes any sence lol

  4. 4 metal snake

    well i like the game and the reveiw but i have a strange problem i cant replay because i took the door cards out of teliko’s deck and now they arent in there and i feel like an idiot so i have to start from the very begining to play it again twice

  5. 5 darth gayer

    it would of been crap if it was the same as before. all they are trying to do is test out different ways of playing the game. but still it depends how much you like card and stratergy games. but i think the game is exellent and give it an 8 and a half. but its deffently worth getting for psp.

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